For the last couple years since I formed Nonadecimal Creative and started developing indie games (and experiments in procedural narrative), it’s been a side project on nights and weekends while my day job occupied most of my time. Sometimes that meant working more than 80 hours a week and only sleeping a few hours per day. Nonetheless, I challenged myself in the office to design automation that could handle our rapidly ballooning workload… and succeeded… and was laid off when the robotic version of me replaced the team, ironically fulfilling my career goals:
— Nonadecimal (@Nonadecimal) July 19, 2015
Good thing I already had so many new projects lined up at Nonadecimal Creative. Ever since my first job programming packs of robots to work cooperatively to achieve a goal, I’ve sought to find employment where I could expand my interest in AI and engineering solutions to complicated problems. Obviously the answer was to just make my own company. So starting a little earlier than planned, I’m investing myself in Nonadecimal full time.
It’s both exciting and scary to live or die by your own creativity. I have a hefty backlog of ideas sketched out over the past two years. It’s just a matter of putting them in order by their risk and return so that each project can fuel the development of the next. Here’s a tentative roadmap for 2015 and 2016.
2015 – What’s left of it:
Near the end of July I tried to design a strategy game inspired by cellular automata in two weeks for the IGMC 2015 competition. I teamed up with the talented @metkis who transformed my grid of propagating numbers into fuzzy monster hordes. You can read a little more about Automon Empire here and vote for it in the competition here.
I have a few more features to add this month but I like the way this simple strategy game is shaping up. If I’m really ambitious, it’ll even have online multiplayer for up to 4 players. I expect the game to be finished by the end of 2015 and released on itch.io and Steam.
Tales from Black Ice
Throughout 2015 I’ve been experimenting with small narrative simulations. A randomly generated prison of backstabbing inmates, a neighborhood of occasionally backstabbing Victorian aristocrats, and tales of intrigue from our rapidly approaching cyberpunk future. That last one has been an ongoing project that I pitched to the friendly dev of Black Ice. I’ve been designing a procedurally generated quest system for his hack-and-shoot FPS that would provide backstory for the corporate servers you’re hacking via instant message.
Back on track with plot generation today. "Kidnap Gerard Aguilar? How hard could it be?" pic.twitter.com/07tn1Fzs9i
— Nonadecimal (@Nonadecimal) July 19, 2015
While it’s still rough around the edges, even the basic undecorated emails and linear plots it’s already generating can be compelling. I’ll be getting back to this project full time once Automon Empire is done, adding dynamic branches to the quests so you can sell out your employers to the highest bidder and suffer the doublecrossing subterfuge of your “coworkers” as well.
2016 and beyond…
Realistically I’ll keep working on the plot generator into 2016, up until the yet-unannounced release date for Black Ice. Procedural narrative has been my primary objective for Nonadecimal Creative and the work on this project is a starting point for larger scale ideas involving adaptive storytelling that focuses on the player’s choices rather than a script.
Two schematics for larger games have consistently floated to the top of the pile over the last couple years, even though I haven’t found the time to take either one beyond spreadsheets and into code. In 2016 I will leverage what I’ve learned about procedural generation into one of the two. That means you’ll either be taking tactical control of a team of paranormal investigators piecing together procedural clues to prevent supernatural disasters or struggling to survive on an inhospitable alien world of your own making. Let me know which sounds more fun and you’ll get to watch it develop throughout 2016.
If you read this post and got a taste of what I’d like to do in the months ahead, I hope you’ll help me stick to the timeline. Feel free to tweet me at @Nonadecimal reminding me to GET BACK TO WORK ALREADY.